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Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the 38th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Meeting on Aerospace Sciences


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Publication Date



In this paper, results are presented of an experimental and theoretical study of snapover, glow discharge, and arc phenomena for different materials immersed in argon or xenon plasmas. The effect of snapover is investigated for several metal-dielectric junctions: copper-teflon, copper-Kapton, copper-glass, aluminum-teflon, aluminum-Kapton, steel-teflon, anodized aluminum with pinholes, and copper-ceramics. I-V curves are measured, and snapover inception voltages, essential parameters (increase in current and collection area due to secondary electrons), and glow discharge inception thresholds are determined. Optical spectra are obtained for glow discharges in both argon and xenon plasmas. These spectra provide information regarding atomic species entrapped in the glow region. A video-camera and linear array were used to confirm that snapover inception is accompanied by very low intensity visible light emission. This result seems to be important for the estimate of the light pollution around spacecraft. Optical spectra (wavelengths 380-650 nm) of arcs are also obtained on a negatively biased chromic acid anodized aluminum plate immersed in low density argon and xenon plasmas. Analysis of these spectra confirms our earlier findings that aluminum atoms are ejected from the arc site. Moreover, it is found that chromium atoms are also quite abundant in the arc plasma. It is believed that the latter results contribute considerably to the understanding of processes of plasma contamination caused by arcing


Proceedings of the 38th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronomics Meeting on Aerospace Sciences

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